BRECKENRIDGE — The Big Spring Steers were hanging on by a thread for most of Friday’s Class 3A area championship game against No. 4 Kennedale.
The Wildcats couldn’t exactly put the Steers away early and the Steers couldn’t seriously make a game out of it.
But like elite teams do, Kennedale wore down Big Spring on the way to a 74-43 win, ending the Steers’ season.
Big Spring standout guard Luke Adams scored 26 points to lead the Steers, but the Wildcats got a little bit of help from everybody with four players in double figures. JaRon White had 18 points and Alex Robinson, Corey Taylor and Nick Cates — the heralded 6-foot-10 center — had 10 apiece.
This game didn’t look like it was going to be a 31-point win for Kennedale in the first half. The Steers were just down seven at the end of the first quarter and Tristian Clay’s 3-point play at the end of the second made it a nine-point deficit, when it could’ve been 12.
“I told them at halftime, ‘We’re down by nine at halftime to a good team. We’ve been down by nine against a lot of people. We’ve been down by more than nine,’” BSHS head coach Cliff Thompson said. “We were encouraged going into halftime, but their depth got us.”
Depth is what makes Kennedale dangerous. Thompson said Cates was someone the Steers definitely wanted to slow down, which they did to a certain degree. But it’s hard to contain the Wildcats’ guards, who had no problem gunning a 3-pointer.
The Steers’ best chance to close the gap was toward the end of the third. Big Spring was down 40-31 and with a chance to cut into Kennedale’s lead, Luke Adams missed a shot from beyond the arc — a shot Thompson said Adams usually makes.
That was immediately followed by a 3 -pointer from Kennedale’s Corey Taylor. Big Spring missed again on its next possession and Taylor hit another 3-pointer. The Kennedale guard Justin Braswell hit another 3-pointer to end the third quarter for a 49-33 lead.
The Steers went from hopeful to discouraged in a flash.
Coming out of halftime, Adams said the key wasn’t necessarily scoring to keep up with the Wildcats, but the Steers knew they had to get more aggressive defensively.
“We just said we have to play defense and stop them, because they were still up nine points,” he said. “We usually don’t let a team score 35 points in the first half, so we were a little bummed by that. We started off slow, thought we could still come back. We played hard, but we just came up short in the end.”
Kennedale just poured it on in the fourth, finally finding its comfort zone.
Kennedale head coach Doug Groff said the Steers weren’t an easy out and this was a quality win for his team. He also gave a lot of credit to Adams.
“He was all he was built up to be,” Groff said. “He’s quite the player. We held him to 26 and I feel lucky about that. We were afraid he was going to go off for 40.”
The Steers have 24 wins, a playoff berth and a ranking in the Texas Association of Basketball Coaches’ Poll to show for the 2010-2011
This adds on to last year’s accomplishments, too. The Steers were district champions at the Class 4A level and reached the area round of the playoffs during the 2009-2010 campaign.
Thompson, a first-year head coach, is losing the group responsible for those accomplishments, though. Marc Segundo and Chazzell Robinson are the only two players returning to varsity next season.
KENNEDALE 74, BIG SPRING 43
Big Spring 8 15 10 10 - 43
Kennedale 15 17 17 25 - 74
Kennedale — Justin Braswell 6, Mike Nelson 4, AJ Jones 4, Sterling Dickens 2, JaRon White 18, Alex Robinson 10, Corey Taylor 10, DaJuan Cooper 6, Nick Cates 10, Nic Williams 2
Big Spring — Marc Segundo 2, Tritian Clay 3, Mike Menefield 4, Luke Adams 26, Chazzell Robinson 2, Devante Lloyd 6
3-point field goals — Kennedale 6 (Braswell 2, White 1, Robinson 1, Taylor 2), Big Spring 2 (Adams 2)
Free throws — Big Spring 9-11, Kennedale 6-17
Total fouls — Kennedale 16, Big Spring 15. Technical fouls — Cliff Thompson, BSHS head coach